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It’s Your Time Off… Take It

  • October 18, 2022

A quick rant this week. There’s a trend in American workplaces, and it’s terrible. People are taking “time off”, but still working. I can’t even begin to count the number of co-workers I hear who say something to the effect of “I’m out next week, but I’ll still be monitoring emails or joining some calls”. I’m even guilty of doing this on occasion.

This isn’t taking time off.

If you’re checking email or attending meetings, on your “day off”, you might as well not take time off. There are a couple of reasons why this is the case.

It’s Bad For Your Health

There are myriad studies and articles covering all the reasons that taking time off improves your health. It relaxes you. It improves your heart. It settles your mind. It improves your ability to focus. It lowers stress levels and blood pressure. It improves your ability to think creatively. It improves the quality of your sleep. It raises your productivity levels. The list goes on and on and on.

And I’m sure you probably guessed the corollary to this. If you’re still working while you’re “on vacation”, you don’t get any of those benefits. Not one. Not any. If you want the health benefits from going on vacation (and there are many), you actually need to be on vacation.

It’s A Symptom Of Culture Issues

If your company expects you to work on your vacation, it’s a clear sign of problems with your company culture, in more ways than one. And while some of it is a problem with the company, some of that is probably your fault as well.

For one, if your team isn’t capable of covering for you while you’re out, then you aren’t doing a good job of basic things like cross-training and knowledge sharing. This needs to be a part of your primary work process.

I’ve heard it called various things, but one of my former managers called it the “truck factor”. If you were hit by a truck on the way to work and confined to a hospital for a month, how screwed would your team be without you? If any level of screwed would result, then you need to rethink how you do things.

In the same vein, it’s a good way to test your team’s readiness to adapt to issues that might arise.

You’re Giving Away Money

Generally, as a salaried employee, you’re already giving away money whenever you work more than 40 hours in a week. But if you’re working at all during your days off, you’re giving away even more money.

Conclusion

It’s your time off. Turn off your email, Teams, Discord, and Slack. Whatever your company uses to communicate, turn it off. Uninstall it from your phone even.

Don’t get me wrong. Over the years I’ve gotten better, but there are times I screw this up. Yes, there are times I still need to get involved with things going on during my time off. You probably will have to as well. Things happen. Just try to avoid it.

Whenever possible take your time off. Your body needs it. Your brain needs it. Just do it.